D.C. lawmakers take steps to decriminalize marijuana in the District. Virginia’s new governor courts lawmakers from the other side of the aisle — with booze. And the Maryland Senate moves to ban sales of grain alcohol in the Old Line State. Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.


  • Tom Sherwood Resident Analyst; NBC 4 reporter; and Columnist for the Current Newspapers
  • Donna Edwards Member, U.S. House of Representatives (D-MD, 4th Congressional District)
  • Paul Zukerberg Attorney, Zukerberg Law Center, Pllc
  • Darrel Thompson Democratic Candidate, D.C. Council (Ward 6)

Featured Clip

Darrel Thompson, candidate for the Ward 6 D.C. Council seat, talks about how he differs from his opponent, Charles Allen. “Sometimes, I got to tell you, I’m not sure if I’m running against Tommy Wells or Charles Allen or both of them on any given day,” Thompson said. He said he differs from Allen and Wells in terms of policy as well as leadership. Thompson said, if elected, he would seek to improve public schools with initiatives like expanding the number of slots in pre-K and creating more opportunities for students with disabilities.


  • 12:06:40

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5, at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Politics Hour," starring Tom Sherwood. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:06:55

    MR. KOJO NNAMDITom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's a reporter at NBC 4 and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. Tom, 60 parties in 60 days. No, that's not Justin Bieber's latest resolve to enjoy life. It's how Terry McAuliffe says he's approaching the commonwealth general assembly session. Good food and expensive drinks on me. This governor doesn't need a Johnny Williams Junior to pay for anything. He's loaded. And if getting Republican legislators loaded is what it will take to get legislation passed, then bring in the good hooch. It's tough work, Tom, but somebody's got to do it. Pip, pip, bend the elbow, down the hatch, cheers, let's get to work here. Tom, it's enough to make you want to work in Richmond again.

  • 12:07:35

    MR. TOM SHERWOODWell, you know, and Richmond is a fine place. Alan Suderman, the former loose lips, is down there for AP. So I'm depending upon him to get inside that bottle and see what's up. But this is Governor McAuliffe. This is the man whose biography is, "What a Party." And so apparently he's taken that book cover right into the governor's mansion. Now, there is one thing, he spent his own money -- I think it was a couple hundred thousand dollars -- to actually buy decent booze you'd want to drink.

  • 12:08:05

    NNAMDII suspect he can afford that.

  • 12:08:06

    SHERWOODAnd he needs to -- and a lot of people don't know him, particularly the Republicans who control half the Senate. And they control the House -- or almost half the Senate. And so he said I'm going to -- these guys, I want them to get to know me. The Post reported he's going to go turkey shooting or wild bird shooting, it's some kind of shooting in (unintelligible) Virginia. It's just McAuliffe. This is the personality of McAuliffe that he kept a damper on during the campaign when he tried to be the Virginia gentleman.

  • 12:08:34

    NNAMDIAnd for those…

  • 12:08:35

    SHERWOODBut this is the party man now and I'm told he's not drinking much at these parties, but he certainly is making it available. And if you don't have time for a party at night, he'll make time for you for breakfast.

  • 12:08:43

    NNAMDIFor breakfast.

  • 12:08:44

    SHERWOODBut I don't know if there are any Bloody Marys at breakfast.

  • 12:08:47

    NNAMDIIf you're a teetotaler you can simply have breakfast and you don't have to drink anything…

  • 12:08:49

    SHERWOODIt's 5:00 o'clock somewhere.

  • 12:08:51

    NNAMDII'm pretty sure there will be Bloody Marys at breakfast. But besides that, today we have an announcement.

  • 12:09:16

    NNAMDIOn Wednesday, February 26th, WAMU 88.5 will be hosting a forum for all the candidates on the ballots for mayor in the April 1st Democratic primary in the District of Columbia. The event will take place inside our new media center here at 4401 Connecticut Avenue. And we'll air live from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. that night. Panelists will include Tom Sherwood and WAMU 88.5's Kavitha Cardoza and Patrick Madden, and the audience may include you. Our new media center was designed so that we can include the public in important conversations like this one. So stay tuned for details about you can obtain tickets online in the coming days.

  • 12:10:00

    NNAMDIIn the meantime, get excited. It's Wednesday, February 26th, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. right here. And Tom Sherwood will be on hand.

  • 12:10:09

    SHERWOODWill there be any tickets on Stub Hub?

  • 12:10:11

    NNAMDII don't even know what Stub Hub is. See, I'm out of…

  • 12:10:14

    SHERWOODYou don't -- it's a secondary market for tickets.

  • 12:10:15

    NNAMDII see.

  • 12:10:17

    SHERWOODThat's okay. I'm sorry I brought it up.

  • 12:10:18

    NNAMDII don't think there'll…

  • 12:10:20

    SHERWOODThat's going to be really good. You know people have a hard time realizing this, the primary for who the next mayor should be in the Democratic Party is April the 1st. We are just weeks away from the actual voting, which will be -- early voting starts March 17th. So we're just about a month away from people actually voting. So this late February forum -- and there are other forums. But this will be right in the heart of the campaign. So it's very important that we have it. And I'm glad WAMU is doing it.

  • 12:10:49

    NNAMDIAnd I am willing to wager that a few of these candidates may get less votes than there are candidates because there are how many candidates in the Democratic primary?

  • 12:10:58

    SHERWOODWell, are there, seven now, I think.

  • 12:10:58

    NNAMDIEight so far.

  • 12:11:00

    SHERWOODThere are four or five candidates who have raised the money and put together the campaigns to be credible candidates. And I think it's really good to hear them in the heat of the battle of what they're going to do to go forward.

  • 12:11:15


  • 12:11:15

    SHERWOODAnd also, despite one of the candidates, we're going to look back, too, at some of the records.

  • 12:11:21

    NNAMDIExactly right. So you want to join us then and hear Tom Sherwood and Kavitha Cardoza and Patrick Madden go at the candidates. Joining us now by telephone is Donna Edwards. She's a member of the United States House of Representatives. She is a Democrat from Maryland. Congresswoman Edwards, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:11:40

    REP. DONNA EDWARDSHi, Kojo. Hey, Tom. Good to be with you.

  • 12:11:42

    SHERWOODHi, Congresswoman.

  • 12:11:43

    EDWARDSAnd pardon my laryngitis.

  • 12:11:45

    NNAMDIAllow me to tell the listeners that you can join the conversation by calling 800-433-885 if you have questions or comments for Congresswoman Edwards. You can also send email to kojo@wamu.org. Congresswoman Edwards, lawmakers on Capitol Hill still grappling with the issue of extending unemployment benefits for more than 1.7 million people. Their benefits expired at the end of last year. The matter is stuck in the Senate. It's a priority for you Democrats, both in the House and on the other side of the Hill, as well as for the president. Where do you see this headed?

  • 12:12:17

    EDWARDSWell, I don't know. I mean it was really disappointing to see that the Senate wasn't able to move forward in unemployment extension. What that means for workers is that in addition to the about 1.5 million workers who've already lost their unemployment benefits, about 72,000 workers are losing their benefits every single week because we haven't extended unemployment. And so I hope members of Congress, senators, go back to their districts and their states they continue to hear from people how have friends and neighbors and family members and former coworkers who need those unemployment benefits.

  • 12:12:51

    EDWARDSAnd, you know, the average benefit is only about $313 a week. It's not a huge amount of money, but it's the difference between paying electricity and staying in your home and putting food on the table. And so it means a lot to Americans as we recover in this economy.

  • 12:13:08

    SHERWOODWhat is your response to some of the views that if you keep extending unemployment benefits, people just simply don't work and they just use that money to get by and it discourages people from taking jobs they might otherwise take if they didn't get unemployment benefits?

  • 12:13:24

    EDWARDSWell, I just don't buy it and the facts don't bear that out. I mean I like to deal in facts. And the fact is when people receive their unemployment benefits they actually use those benefits, both to buy food, but also to buy gas to get to jobsites and work places and to find employment. I talk to people all the time in my district, around our state, who receive unemployment benefits. You know what, Tom? They want to work. They want us to get those construction jobs going again. They want to make sure that we're building things again.

  • 12:13:57

    EDWARDSThey want to work. And the fact is that even though we've had an economic recovery, that recovery has touched Wall Street, but it really hasn't made its way to Main Street. And until that happens we need to extend unemployment benefits. And you know the presumption that somehow unemployed workers collecting unemployment are lazy and don't work -- a lot of people who are on unemployment right now in the long-term unemployment rolls are filled with women and with older workers. And that's why the president launched this initiative with CEOs around the country who said, we're going to look at our hiring again, to see that we're not discriminating against…

  • 12:14:32

    NNAMDIIf I may interrupt. The president has also said he's going to take executive action much more often in this second term of his. To what degree do you think that can make a difference, like raising the minimum wage for government contractors?

  • 12:14:45

    EDWARDSWell, the president hasn't used the executive order in the way that other presidents have and as much. And so I'm glad to see him do that. I mean I think the president is entitled to use his full executive authority. And you what, if Congress wants to be followers they can be followers. But it shouldn't prevent the president from acting on behalf of the American people. And, you know, to extend minimum wage to make sure that workers who work on government contracts, who are paid with taxpayer dollars, are paid minimum wage, I'm glad to see the president take that executive order. And I'll be pleased to see others.

  • 12:15:19

    EDWARDSAnd then maybe as a Congress, we will get in Congress and do our job. And so I want him to use the full authority that he has to do what's right for the American people. And then we need to do our job.

  • 12:15:31

    SHERWOODIn the jobs report today, the monthly jobs report today wasn't good either. Some people are worried that the economy may be slowing and that would make it even more difficult for people who've been long-term unemployed to get jobs. Once you've been a long-term unemployed person there is a stigma that, well, maybe we shouldn't hire you because you've been unemployed so long.

  • 12:15:54

    EDWARDSWell, and that's why the president's meeting with the CEOs -- I was there at the White House when he announced. I was there in the room with all of the CEOs from around the country who are actually looking at their hiring practice to make sure that they stop and don't discriminate against the long-term unemployed. But the fact is Congress could do something now. We have a budget, we have an appropriation, we could start building our roads and our bridges and our infrastructure and get people back to work so that we can deal with this problem. And I'm worried that Congress' inaction is actually contributing to what we might have stalling in the economy.

  • 12:16:27

    EDWARDSI'm really worried about that because I think the president has done a lot, and an amazing amount over these last five years, to get us into recovery, to get us out of this recession. Well, now it's time for Congress to get on the stick and do something for the American people.

  • 12:16:42

    SHERWOODI need to ask you, on a separate subject, because your raspy voice is encouraging it, what do you think about the CVS decision, with its 7,500 CVS drugstores around the nation, stopping the sale of all tobacco products?

  • 12:16:58

    EDWARDSWell, my raspy voice is not because I'm a smoker. It's because I have a cold.

  • 12:17:03

    SHERWOODI know you do.

  • 12:17:03

    EDWARDSBut I have to tell you I am so excited about what CVS is doing. CVS is saying, you know what, we're in the pharmacy business, we're in the healthcare business, and having those cigarettes behind the counter at a pharmacy doesn't make business sense for us. I have a feeling that CVS is going to reap tremendous benefits for really investing in its core business. And it's going to benefit all of us who need to be healthier and get healthcare as well. And so I'm excited. It makes me want to go to the CVS counter even more than I do now.

  • 12:17:36

    NNAMDIOnto the telephones because Cimi, in Fredericksburg, Va. would like to join this conversation on unemployment benefits. Cimi, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:17:43

    CIMIHi, guys. Listen, because I'm unemployed I'm not able to contribute to a 401 (k) for retirement. So not only do I have problems putting food on the table and paying the electricity bill, but I also have long-term issues with being on entitlements that won't give me enough to eat on when I'm 65. I'm 49 now. But also I have retirement issues. So we're not sitting around -- when I am on unemployment -- I'm chronically unemployed right now. When I am unemployed I'm not able to contribute to the local, federal and state tax base or fund my retirement.

  • 12:18:23

    CIMISo we're not sitting around listening to Kojo Nnamdi, although, when I have an opportunity, that's what I do. We're not doing that.

  • 12:18:31

    NNAMDIThank you.

  • 12:18:32

    CIMIThat myth is dispelled.

  • 12:18:33

    NNAMDIThank you very much for doing that and for calling. Congresswoman Edwards, what do you say?

  • 12:18:38

    EDWARDSWell, Cimi, bless you because you know what? Her story and what she has said is what millions of workers all across this country are saying. They're saying, you know what, we want a job. We want to work. We want to contribute both to our present, but also to our future. We want to make sure that we're contributing to our families and contributing to growing this economy. Cimi is actually typical of a person who's unemployed because she has the incentive and wants to work and you can hear that in her voice. Our responsibility is to tide her over in the meantime, but get her to a place where she has a full-time job and is able to pay her taxes and contribute to her own retirement. And so I want her to work and she wants to work.

  • 12:19:19

    NNAMDII know you have to go, but few states have moved as aggressively to implement the Affordable Care Act as your state, but it's fair to say that the rollout of Maryland's healthcare exchange has been rocky. At this point what course directions do you think are necessary in Maryland and where do you think things went wrong? You only have about a minute left, by the way. You've got to go.

  • 12:19:38

    EDWARDSOkay. We're getting to this every single day and every single day it's actually -- just like in the federal exchange -- it's actually getting better for Marylanders. In fact, my office, just last week helped a woman who was a nurse for 23 years get healthcare for herself and her children. And so I know that it can happen. People need to just be patient, stick with it and we need to do our job in Maryland of making sure that it's a seamless transition from their circumstance now to getting healthcare and I'm convinced we're going to do it.

  • 12:20:03

    NNAMDIOkay. Quickly, what happened at the Washington Press Club Foundation annual dinner? Apparently there was no badda-boom.

  • 12:20:09

    EDWARDSI knew if I could leave 30 seconds you'd go there. What I was saying, I would encourage all of my press corps colleagues read the Washington Post and listen to the radio because everybody's heard of, you know, Governor McDonnell's problems and, you know, Benghazi and all this other stuff. And I was just trying to make some fun. I love what the Washington Press Club Foundation does for promoting women and minority journalists and supporting that.

  • 12:20:32

    EDWARDSAnd I try to do the best I can and apparently I did a great job on that scandal parody. And so I urge people to go to YouTube and take a look at it. And you know what? I'm keeping my day job as a politician. And my parents always told me, "Donna, you went to law school and you were an engineer. You are not a comedian." I agree with them.

  • 12:20:48

    NNAMDIBadda-boom. Donna Edwards is a member of the United States House of Representatives. She's a Democrat from the State of Maryland. Congresswoman Edwards, thank you so much for joining us.

  • 12:20:58

    EDWARDSThank you both.

  • 12:20:58

    NNAMDIThis is "The Politics Hour," with Tom Sherwood. He's our resident analyst. He's a reporter at NBC 4 and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. You can call us at 800-433-8850. You can send email to kojo@wamu.org. Tom, Harriet Tregoning out of here, leaving D.C. government for the Obama administration. She, of course, has been the director of the Department of Planning here in Washington. They keep stealing people from us. We go back to Dan Tangherlini, Vivek Kundra, Bryan Sivak, the feds just keep…

  • 12:21:31

    SHERWOODAnd the head of the IRS now, Koskinen.

  • 12:21:34

    NNAMDIThey keep stealing stuff from us and not giving anything to the District of Columbia, as in voting rights, but…

  • 12:21:39

    SHERWOODThat's true. Harriet Tregoning has had a real impact. I mean there have been many stories in the Greater Greater Washington Blog, the Washington Business Journal, the Post and other places. I mean whether you agree with her approach, planning, she was there, she was at the table, she's held dozens upon dozens of dozens of public hearings on the zoning changes, the massive zoning changes that are coming. She clearly was committed to her job. She rode a bike to work often. One of those fold-up bikes that looks like a kid's bike.

  • 12:22:10


  • 12:22:11

    SHERWOODAnd she was aggressive and she was on the National Capital Planning Commission. She had her last meeting just yesterday, where they praised her there for her work, although she didn't get her way on the (unintelligible). But she's the kind of person -- what I always say in my little (unintelligible) get an email from me, there's a little tag line that says, you know, "Local Washington is only as good as the people active in it." And I would say to her she was a good person active in our city.

  • 12:22:33

    NNAMDIWell, she's left before…

  • 12:22:34

    SHERWOODAnd she's going to the federal government, too, but, Lord, she'll be lost in that bureaucracy.

  • 12:22:38

    NNAMDIShe's left before the people who were complaining to me last week at our open house here about the McMillan Reservoir Development plan was finally resolved. So that's probably still going to be a bone of contention.

  • 12:22:49

    SHERWOODWell, there's a lot of redevelopment and decision-making on plots of land…

  • 12:22:52

    NNAMDIThe old Walter Reed facility.

  • 12:22:53

    SHERWOOD…all over the place. And this is just some -- I live in Southwest, but it's a massive -- it was the meeting a couple of Sunday's ago -- weekends ago about what to do with all that open land down there around -- on the southwest of South Capitol Street.

  • 12:23:08

    NNAMDILater in the hour we'll talk to a candidate who wants to be Ward 6's representative to the D.C. council, but first, we're going to explore whether there's going to be an election at all for the city's attorney general. Joining us in studio is Paul Zukerberg. He is a candidate for the aforementioned attorney general seat in the District of Columbia. He ran last year in the special election for an at-large seat on the D.C. council. Paul Zukerberg, welcome. Thank you for joining us.

  • 12:23:31

    MR. PAUL ZUKERBERGThank you, Kojo, Tom.

  • 12:23:32

    NNAMDIVoters in 2010 decided in a referendum by a huge margin that they wanted this position to be an elected position starting this year, 2014. Last year the council voted to delay holding that election, seemingly against the will of the voters who asked for it a few years ago. Paul, a judge is expected to rule. You have sued to force this election. A judge is expected to rule on the matter today. What are you expecting will happen?

  • 12:23:57

    ZUKERBERGWell, we are happy that we finally got the matter before a judge. It's been -- we've had to wait until the new law took effect, but we did have a hearing yesterday. We have a motion for a preliminary injunction to keep the attorney general on the April 1 primary ballot. And the judge has indicated that she would rule today because the ballots are going out to be printed for the overseas voters and military people at close of business tonight.

  • 12:24:29

    SHERWOODYou say you have your phone on ready to get a beep from the court to say that you've gotten the answer?

  • 12:24:36

    ZUKERBERGWith maybe reality radio I may get the answer right on the air.

  • 12:24:40

    SHERWOODThey're going to draw names for places on the ballot. What do you -- I mean the councilmembers, Jack Evans from Ward 2 and a couple other councilmembers said, oh, well, there's just not enough candidates for this seat. It's surprising people. It's already confusing enough that we're having an April 1st primary, which people still don't quite have in their heads. That we're rushing this and they want to put it off for four more years. What's wrong with that?

  • 12:25:03

    ZUKERBERGWell, we've had four years. The charter amendment passed in 2010. So four years seems like enough time to get our act together. But more importantly, we have to defend the right of D.C. voters to amend the Home Rule Charter. That's one of the few democratic rights that we do have and it's important that we keep it and that the council honor our vote.

  • 12:25:28

    SHERWOODWell, what's the difference -- if Congress interferes with our city government people just go screaming mad about it, but if our council interferes with people's choice it seems to me that's equally to be mad about.

  • 12:25:41

    ZUKERBERGIt's equally mad. It's even worse because…

  • 12:25:43

    SHERWOODWhat are they afraid of? They say, well, there's a lot of confusion. Some people say they don't want to competing political power elected by the people in the attorney general who can muck around in various issues and be a challenge to them, just like attorneys general in other states, Virginia and other places, become quite powerful and then run for governors and mayors.

  • 12:26:04

    ZUKERBERGWell, 43 states do have elected attorney generals. And it is the preferred process. What some people call mucking around, other people think of as transparency and accountability. So we need an independent attorney general because we need the law to be applied fairly to all people.

  • 12:26:25

    SHERWOODAnd if the judge rules you'll be the only person on the ballot because you're the only one who filed for the office.

  • 12:26:28

    NNAMDIAnd the judge made a point yesterday of mentioning that to your attorney, saying that you are the only person on this ballot and you are generally unopposed. Do you think that's relevant at all?

  • 12:26:38

    ZUKERBERGI don't think it's relevant. There's going to be a lot of unopposed people on the ballot. Eleanor Holmes Norton, of course, is unopposed. Mary Cheh is unopposed. Jack Evans has been unopposed in the past. Kwame Brown, not to say that I'm, you know, comparing myself to Eleanor Holmes Norton in any way, but it's not unusual, particularly in primaries. But the important thing is that if it stays on the ballot there will be another period of ballot access in June and anyone with 3,000 signatures can get on the November ballot.

  • 12:27:10

    NNAMDIAnd you think that by making that statement the judge might have been giving a hint about how she's likely to rule?

  • 12:27:17

    ZUKERBERGYou know I've been doing this for 30 years and I've stopped predicting how judges are going to rule.

  • 12:27:22

    NNAMDIWell, let's go back to the council. A year ago you were running for an at-large seat on this council, and Tom just asked you what you felt about how the council was dealing with this. You wanted to be a part of this council. What's your opinion of the council as a body now?

  • 12:27:35

    ZUKERBERGWell, we've made a lot of progress.

  • 12:27:36

    SHERWOODTiny (unintelligible).

  • 12:27:38

    ZUKERBERGWell, we've made a lot of progress on the council. I think we have a number of young council people coming up who believe in good government. I'm impressed by many of them and I think there is a change in the District of Columbia, change for the better. And the good government movement is not going to be decided in one courtroom or one lawsuit. It's going to move forward and we're going to still have positive change no matter what the judge does in my lawsuit.

  • 12:28:05

    SHERWOODBut you were early in that April election, calling for a change in the city's marijuana laws, saying that it was unfair, that particularly African American young men were being arrested in unbelievably awkward numbers compared to everyone else. The council now has actually passed a decriminalization bill. That was some controversy over smoking in public. What is your thought about where that stands in the nation now compared to say, Colorado, where it's simply something that's sold and taxed?

  • 12:28:33

    ZUKERBERGWell, we've made a huge step forward. This week it was an 11 to 1 vote. A year ago Chairman Mendelsohn said he would not even discuss decriminalization. Now he, along with 10 other councilmembers voted in favor of decriminalization. It's a huge step forward. It's not nearly what they're doing in Colorado, but it's going to have a huge impact on young people, on the arrest rate, and it's going to make a better city if it passes. It hasn't yet.

  • 12:29:05

    SHERWOODYvette Alexander, is she the person who voted against it? Right. There's some feeling that people say, well, this decriminalization, which means fines instead of jail sentences or criminal charges, it's just a tiny step going towards actual legalization as it is in Colorado and I think Washington State. Do you favor the legalization of marijuana, so that you can then regulate and tax it like alcohol?

  • 12:29:31

    ZUKERBERGI don't think it's the right step for us here in D.C. at this time.

  • 12:29:35

    NNAMDIWhy not?

  • 12:29:37

    ZUKERBERGBecause it's going to be too much too fast. There are a lot of people like Yvette Alexander, they're old-school people…

  • 12:29:43

    SHERWOODWard 7.

  • 12:29:44

    ZUKERBERG…Ward 7 councilwoman. There's old-school people and there's reformers. And I think it's important that we take a positive step and we're all going to be watching, the whole nation is going to be watching Colorado and Washington State to see if it is a good system.

  • 12:29:59

    SHERWOODAngela Alsobrooks, whose the prosecutor in Prince George's County was on this program back when Tommy Wells was on a couple of weeks ago. And she's just horrified by the idea of even decriminalizing and saying that this just opens the door to more abusive drug use.

  • 12:30:14

    ZUKERBERGWell, you know, CDC statistics show actually that Colorado has the steepest drop in teenage marijuana use of any state in the nation. So there may be a change that people find unexpected, is that once you take the illegality out of it, you take some of the fun out of it, too. And maybe young people will make better choices then we did we were young.

  • 12:30:38

    NNAMDIOur guest is Paul Zukerberg. He's a Democratic candidate for attorney general in the District of Columbia. Paul Zukerberg ran last year in the special election for an at-large seat on the D.C. council. If you have questions or comments for him call us at 800-433-8850. Do you think we should be proceeding with the attorney general election on April 1st? 800-433-8850. Writing for the council last month, the current attorney general, Irv Nathan, basically said that as far as your lawsuit is concerned, the intent of the voters in the 2010 referendum is not relevant. What would you say to that?

  • 12:31:13

    ZUKERBERGWell, that's why my lawsuit is important. That's why I'm fighting it. That's why I collected 4,800 signatures in the winter. Because the intent of the voters and our right to amend our Home Rule Charter is an essential right. And I think it has to be defended.

  • 12:31:32

    NNAMDILet's say you were able to force this election and you won the job in the fall. How would you go about building the office into what you think it should be and building the credibility that some members of the council are obviously concerned that this office might lack?

  • 12:31:46

    ZUKERBERGWell, we have been building the office. It's made tremendous progress since it was called the corporation counsel. And the level of lawyering has improved greatly. What needs to change is the policy decisions of the office. On juvenile justice we need to end zero tolerance. On contracts we need transparency and accountability. And those are some of the things that an independent attorney general can bring to the office. And if we have an election people can talk about it and express what they think the attorney general should be doing.

  • 12:32:20

    SHERWOODWhat are the powers, I mean, what power would you have? Would you prosecute misdemeanor cases? What are the powers of the attorney general office, as envisioned?

  • 12:32:31

    ZUKERBERGThe attorney general is in charge -- most important duty is all juvenile prosecutions. And I don't believe in zero tolerance. I don't believe in bringing kids into the criminal justice system unless they commit a felony or a violent crime. And I always believe -- as long as there's no victim or violence involved -- to give a kid a chance to make it right.

  • 12:32:56

    SHERWOODOne of the things the mayor has said and others have said, well, if the attorney general is not appointed, the attorney general has a representative in all the city agencies and the mayor's office would not know whether that assistant attorney general was working for the mayor and the agency or working for the other power, the attorney general himself or herself. He's saying that would confuse the power in the city.

  • 12:33:22

    ZUKERBERGWell, it is a legitimate concern. But 43 other states have resolved that issue, so it's certainly resolvable. But I don't see in D.C., on the big issues, the social issues -- we're not like Virginia. We have a very conservative southwest portion and a very progressive northeast portion. On the main issues, legal issues, marriage equality, decriminalization, I see an attorney general sharing the same philosophy as the mayor.

  • 12:33:55

    NNAMDIHere's Greg, in Lorton, Va. Greg, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:33:59

    GREGHey, thank you so much for taking my call. I just wanted to make a point that I don't hear really any politicians or anyone in the discussion when it comes to decriminalization of marijuana. I personally believe that alcohol is much more destructive than marijuana, first of all. And I also think that one of the problems is that for 40 years now we've been telling kids, hey, you know, if you smoke some marijuana you're going to hallucinate, you know, god-awful things are going to happen to you.

  • 12:34:30

    GREGAnd then they get in a setting where maybe some of their friends or someone they know smokes some marijuana and they observe that and, you know, nothing bad really happens to that person in the same way that, you know, it does when someone does ingest a very harmful drug, such as cocaine or heroin or, God forbid, crystal meth or all these other really seriously dangerous and destructive drugs that are out there.

  • 12:34:54

    GREGAnd so I think what happens is the kids are getting mixed messages and they say, well, they said this horrible thing was going to happen in relation to marijuana and it didn't, so they're probably lying to me about the rest of it. That's really not good. I mean kids aren't stupid. They see the difference. And I just think that that's something we…

  • 12:35:11

    NNAMDIOkay. Here's Paul Zukerberg.

  • 12:35:13

    ZUKERBERGWell, I think the caller makes a great point. What I've tried to do in marijuana is to begin to talk about it. So we could open up the discussion and make room for people to tell about what they know and share information. We should be less interested about sending a message to kids as opening up a dialog with kids. And if we talk about things we'll all learn something.

  • 12:35:39

    NNAMDIOur guest, Paul Zukerberg, is a Democratic candidate for attorney general in the District of Columbia. He ran last year in the special election for an at-large seat on the D.C. council. Now I bring that up on this occasion because we got a tweet from a J. Butch, D.C., who said, "Would Zukerberg consider running in the at-large council seat for a non-majority party in 2014?"

  • 12:36:00

    ZUKERBERGI'm not going to rule anything out. You know, I will tell you this. I put a lot of time and effort into decriminalization. I put a huge amount of time into the attorney general race. Whatever the judge's decision is this afternoon, I'm going to take a few days off and recharge my batteries.

  • 12:36:17

    NNAMDIPaul Zukerberg, thank you so much for joining -- oh, Tom has a final question.

  • 12:36:18

    SHERWOODI was just going to say, make it clear, you have until early June to make that decision about whether to run in the general election.

  • 12:36:27

    ZUKERBERGWell, we do have an extra time and I appreciate that. I'll see. I've made some civic commitment this year.

  • 12:36:34

    SHERWOODDid you, do you, have you in the past -- do you smoke marijuana? What is your personal experience with marijuana?

  • 12:36:40

    ZUKERBERGI've had quite a bit of personal experiences. Fortunately, it was a long time ago. The statute of limitations has run on most of my fun.

  • 12:36:49

    SHERWOODGood enough.

  • 12:36:50

    NNAMDIPaul Zukerberg, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:36:51

    ZUKERBERGThank you both for having me.

  • 12:36:53

    NNAMDIPaul Zukerberg is a Democratic candidate for attorney general in the District of Columbia. You're listening to "The Politics Hour." Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's a reporter at NBC 4 and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. Tom Sherwood, the commonwealth of Virginia, according to a report in the Washington Post on Thursday, in the Virginia Senate, delayed and possibly derailed, a bill meant to send death row inmates to the electric chair if lethal injection drugs are not available.

  • 12:37:19

    NNAMDIThe problem, of course, is the scarcity of the drugs. That's come about because manufacturers in Europe and at least one in the United States have started refusing to sell them for use in executions. And the Virginia Department of Corrections is out of the stuff. Out of the chemicals that make its three-part execution cocktail, currently unable to locate more. So under existing law, the state may not execute any prisoner who does not choose the electric chair. That probably brings an effective, in practical terms, end (unintelligible) …

  • 12:37:49

    SHERWOODRight. It's a de facto moratorium at this point.

  • 12:37:52

    NNAMDIOn the death penalty.

  • 12:37:52

    SHERWOODThat was one of the most interesting things I learned reading the Washington Post story and others about this, is that the makers of these drugs -- and I won't dare attempt to pronounce the names -- are not making them available for death penalty purposes. And of course Virginia is in part famous or infamous for being second to only Texas in the number of death penalties. Just in the last four years Texas has executed about 63 people, including two in the month of January.

  • 12:38:23

    SHERWOODAnd Virginia's only done like five. But this is essentially a moratorium (unintelligible) figure that out. I don’t think the state really wants to be known as a place where the electric chair is used as frequently as Texas.

  • 12:38:35

    NNAMDIAnd of course the companies that make these cocktails say they're not providing them for executions. A part of the reason for that is because those companies have been attracting the attention of anti-death penalty protestors. And they, of course, don't want to be identified, those companies, publicly as being involved with the death penalty.

  • 12:38:53

    NNAMDII noticed in your column in the Current Newspapers this week, you bemoaned the fact that the fire chief in the District of Columbia was not in fact commenting on the death of Mr. Mills, the 40-year employee of the D.C. government, Medric Cecil Mills who died across the street from the fire station. Maybe he read your column because right after that I turned on NBC 4 and there he was talking to your colleague Mark Segraves.

  • 12:39:20

    SHERWOODYou know, I started last Friday asking for the chief in an email and saying, look, the mayor has called this an outrageous thing and says the investigation -- and he wants it done thoroughly and quickly so everyone will know exactly what happened. The deputy mayor, Paul Quander, who's in charge of the public safety agencies of the city, expressed personally -- you could see hurt in his eyes over what happened. And so I said -- pardon the expression -- where in the hell is the fire chief on this? This is his operation. Why hasn't he said anything? And I was just told in blunt emails that the chief had no comment and will have no comment.

  • 12:39:53

    SHERWOODSo I wrote this story -- I wrote the column on Monday and I could have adjusted it on Tuesday. Then on Tuesday, Paul Wagner from Channel 5, who's been all over this story, got in touch with the chief at some public place.

  • 12:40:05

    SHERWOODAnd then the chief agreed to talk to Mark Segraves at our station on Wednesday. It's just he is the fire chief. He's in charge of what the emergency medical technicians do and what the firefighters do. He could have said something, as he did finally, to express concern...

  • 12:40:18

    NNAMDISaid he knew Mr. Mills personally.

  • 12:40:19

    SHERWOOD...but too late in my personal opinion for my column -- too late.

  • 12:40:24

    NNAMDIJoining us now in studio is Darrel Thompson. He's a Democratic candidate for the D.C. Council. He's running for the seat representing Ward 6, the seat currently held by Tommy Wells who is running for mayor. Darrel Thompson, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:40:35

    MR. DARREL THOMPSONKojo, thanks for having me. Tom, it's good to see you.

  • 12:40:38

    NNAMDITommy Wells is running for mayor, leaving that seat open. A few weeks ago, we spoke with Charles Allen, a former chief of staff to Wells, who wants to replace his old boss when you got into this race. One of your supporters said at your campaign launch that people should not want someone who's been inside the Wilson Building already. Why do you feel that way? And what would you offer them instead?

  • 12:40:57

    THOMPSONWell, Kojo, first of all, let me say it's good to be here. Tom, it's good to see you again.

  • 12:41:00

    NNAMDIAnd thank you.

  • 12:41:01

    THOMPSONI phone bank a lot, and I had the opportunity to talk to Tom. I ended up phone banking Tom a few weeks ago, so it's good to see him in person.

  • 12:41:06

    SHERWOODI'm a registered voter.

  • 12:41:08

    THOMPSONYes, he is. We had a great conversation, and it was good. You know, Kojo, Tom, we've come a long way since that first announcement back in October. A lot of folks were wondering about whether or not we could succeed as a campaign. I'm excited about what we've done as a campaign. We're out canvassing every day.

  • 12:41:24

    THOMPSONWe're out phone banking, as Tom knows, every day. We're out meeting voters where they are throughout the Ward, in Shaw, in Southwest, on Capitol Hill, over on 8th Street. We're going everywhere. And I'm excited about where we are. I like where we are as a campaign.

  • 12:41:37

    THOMPSONI got in this race, Kojo -- I got in this race because I'm a -- I was born here in the District, spent a lot of time here as a child, lived and worked in the Ward for nearly 20 years, and been in public service about as long. I like constituent service. I like public service. It's what I do, and I'm good at it. I got six priorities I want to perform for Ward 6.

  • 12:41:56

    SHERWOODOh, no. You're not going to name all six, are you? We don't have time.

  • 12:41:57

    THOMPSONNo, no.

  • 12:41:59

    SHERWOODIt's not like the mayor with his four or five priorities.

  • 12:42:01


  • 12:42:01

    SHERWOODLet me ask you -- can I just ask you about that? 'Cause you're born in the District, and all your campaign literature says, born in the District. But you were reared in Baltimore. You went to Baltimore schools and graduated from school in Baltimore. I mean, how long were you in the District? 'Cause, you know, people say a native Washingtonian, that's either a battle cry or a defense. And so tell -- you were born in the District. I know that. But when did you move to Baltimore?

  • 12:42:20

    THOMPSONAbsolutely born in the District. Born in the District -- my dad had small businesses on Georgia Avenue, and I spent a lot of time -- some of the long-time residents will remember the old Safeway on Georgia Avenue. It's across from the old Petworth Metro.

  • 12:42:32


  • 12:42:33

    THOMPSONThat's gone now. But as a child, I ran through those aisles. And my mom would say, you'd better get back over here, son.

  • 12:42:37

    SHERWOODSo when did you move to Baltimore?

  • 12:42:39

    THOMPSONSo we were always in the District.

  • 12:42:40

    SHERWOODHow old were you?

  • 12:42:42

    THOMPSONMy schooling was all in Baltimore. But we were always in the District up until about age 12, Tom. So this is...

  • 12:42:47


  • 12:42:47

    THOMPSONThis is a part of me. You know, when I was a young man, I came to the District as a young man in '96 and started living at the Car Barn right on East Capitol Street, and I've been there ever since. But as a young man, I also remember the smell of Wonder Bread coming from the Wonder Bread Bakery on our street. So this city's been a part of me as a young man, as a young child.

  • 12:43:08

    SHERWOODSo what can you do in Ward 6? Charles Allen, who's been active in city issues since 2000 or so has been Tommy Wells' chief of staff and campaign manager. Those are the kinds of things he did. How is it different for you? He says he's immersed and grounded in the Ward 6 community and cites and number of things he's done. What is your tie to Ward 6?

  • 12:43:30

    THOMPSONWell, again, I've worked and lived in the area for nearly 20 years. This is my home. And this isn't about what we've done. This is about where we go going forward. I want to take advantage of missed opportunities. I want to make sure that all of our schools are as good as our best schools. We've got to make sure that we're comprehensive (unintelligible)...

  • 12:43:45

    SHERWOODAre there schools in Ward 6? I mean, Tommy Wells brags about the schools in Ward 6.

  • 12:43:50

    THOMPSONListen, Tom, I think that -- go door to door with me sometimes. I talk to some parents that are -- have kids in schools, and they feel good about some of the schools. But they wish their kids were in some of the schools that were perhaps viewed as a little bit better than some of the other schools in Ward 6. So we've got to work on that.

  • 12:44:04

    THOMPSONThe other thing we've got to do, Tom, we've got to make sure that every neighbor in Ward 6 has a home. We've gone through a number of issues right now here in Ward 6 -- housing issues that have come up most recently. This gives us an opportunity to really drill down, take care of seniors...

  • 12:44:17


  • 12:44:18

    NNAMDIYou're a resident of Ward 6, Tom Sherwood?

  • 12:44:19

    SHERWOODYes. I have a home, though.

  • 12:44:21

    NNAMDIWell, you should know, Darrel Thompson, that many Ward 3 representatives chose not to run again because Tom Sherwood was living in Ward 3. He's now moved to Ward 6, and Tommy Wells is not running again in Ward 6. You might want to try to persuade him to move to another ward before you run.

  • 12:44:36

    THOMPSONCall me crazy.

  • 12:44:37

    SHERWOODThere's always time for a general election campaign.

  • 12:44:39

    NNAMDIA lot of your experience has been as a staffer in the Senate for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Why would that make you an asset to your ward at the local level? Congress is very different from the Council. Some would argue that most people on Capitol Hill tend to be indifferent to local issues here in the District.

  • 12:44:55

    THOMPSONWell, not me. I've had an opportunity to work on a lot of unique issues with a lot of unique stakeholders on a lot of very complex, complicated issues. One of the issues that really touched a nerve with me is I got to work on lots of national issues, but none more important than the issues that impacted the lives of people at the local level. I worked on one project -- we got a project pulled back, put in the city control, and is being repurposed for a new use right now. That was fantastic. I said, look, why am I doing this...

  • 12:45:20

    SHERWOODWhat was that?

  • 12:45:21

    NNAMDIWhat project was that?

  • 12:45:21

    THOMPSONThis was a project in Nevada. This was a project I worked on in Nevada where we actually were able to pull it back, get it back in the city control, and it's being repurposed for public use now. When I did that...

  • 12:45:31

    SHERWOODI'm sorry. I'm confused. I missed something. What is...

  • 12:45:34

    THOMPSONThis was a project I worked on in Nevada.

  • 12:45:35

    SHERWOODTo do what?

  • 12:45:36

    THOMPSONTo -- it was a project. It was a blighted housing project. (unintelligible). It was a blighted housing project, so (unintelligible)...

  • 12:45:39

    SHERWOODOh, blighted housing. OK, yeah. That's a big issue around the nation, yeah.

  • 12:45:43

    THOMPSONExactly. It was a blighted housing project. We got pulled back, got it back into city control, and got it repurposed. As I was successful doing that, I said, why am I 2,700 miles away doing this when I should be doing this in my own backyard? So, Kojo...

  • 12:45:55

    NNAMDISo what experience can you point to of local engagement here in the city for those who might only know you as a Capitol Hill aide?

  • 12:46:01

    THOMPSONWell, I appreciate that. Well, first of all, working in the Senate -- everyone has an issue portfolio. So some of the things I've done is working on issues that affect the District while I've been working in the city, issues such as statehood, issues such as (unintelligible)...

  • 12:46:13

    SHERWOODStatehood has not gone very far, so I wouldn't even mention that one.

  • 12:46:15

    THOMPSONWell, you still need an advocate for it, Tom. You know that. So those are some of the issues. On the local level, I've worked with my ANC commissioners on issues such as reducing the flow of traffic coming in from Maryland, right. You know this as well as I do. You've always got a huge influx of traffic in the morning coming in from the east, and it's going -- it's coming in from the east, and it's going back in the -- to the east, coming out of the city on (unintelligible)...

  • 12:46:38

    SHERWOODConstitution Avenue.

  • 12:46:39

    NNAMDITry to get a stop sign on your corner. It took a while, didn't it?

  • 12:46:43

    THOMPSONThat's something I had to work hard to get done. So...

  • 12:46:44

    SHERWOODYeah, but, you know, I checked into the stop sign thing. And I'm told that Tommy Wells' office...

  • 12:46:48

    NNAMDII guessed he would.

  • 12:46:49

    SHERWOOD...did that stop sign in cooperation with you and that actually Charles Allen was the staffer who got the stop sign that you were advocating for.

  • 12:46:57

    THOMPSONTom, that's an interesting story that I'm...

  • 12:46:58

    SHERWOODIs that true? I mean, I don't know.

  • 12:46:59

    THOMPSONThat's an interesting story that I'm unaware of. Again, when I -- I've reached out to folks. And, again, I've worked in constituent services. And when someone calls, you pick up the phone and answer and say, yes, how can I help you? That wasn't the experience I had. But, listen, this is about making sure that we provide opportunities for residents in Ward 6. This is about making sure we move forward. This is about making sure we provide job opportunities.

  • 12:47:19

    SHERWOODBut that sounds like campaign operations, move forward. I mean, one of the candidates for mayor, she says, you know, bring everybody to the table and all these kind of what I call ninth grade civics class things. I'd like to know about what your position on the CSX Tunnel? Do you think the city should move aggressively to block the tunnel on Virginia Avenue in Southeast Washington?

  • 12:47:38

    NNAMDIWait a second because we have a questioner who wants to raise the same question, so you can answer both at the same time. Jennifer, on Capitol Hill, what's your question about the tunnel?

  • 12:47:47

    JENNIFERHi, Kojo. I'm calling about CSX's tunnel proposal. They want to expand and shift the Virginia Ave. Tunnel, which, as you know, currently runs through Capitol Hill and the Navy Yard and Southeast neighborhoods. You also probably know that CSX has chosen to ignore public safety, and they put forth a proposal that magnifies the risk of derailment.

  • 12:48:06

    JENNIFERFor at least four years, they're planning to run larger, faster, and more frequent trains carrying highly flammable Bakken crude, which they admitted to carrying at a meeting that we had with Mayor Gray a few weeks ago, through the city (unintelligible)...

  • 12:48:19

    NNAMDISo you'd like to know if Darrel Thompson favors the tunnel as much as you do?

  • 12:48:23

    JENNIFERWell, I'd like to know if he's as concerned as we are. You know, Whole Foods is planning to come into the neighborhood. They're not too thrilled about that. I know people with young kids that cross Virginia Ave. to go to Nats games. They're not too thrilled about that. And I want to know, you know, what Darrel is planning -- or what his thoughts are and what his plans are to protect his city and his constituents in a derailment or an explosion.

  • 12:48:40

    THOMPSONLet me jump in here for a minute.

  • 12:48:41

    NNAMDIAllow Darrel to speak.

  • 12:48:42

    THOMPSONLet me jump in here. Let me be very clear. It's a mistake. It's an absolute mistake. We're talking about digging up Virginia Avenue. We're talking about disrupting a neighborhood, yards with residents right there.

  • 12:48:52

    SHERWOODSo what would you do about it?

  • 12:48:53

    THOMPSONThere is no -- listen, Tom, I've been very clear on this. There's no world where this is ever a good idea. If you're talking about digging up Independence Avenue or Constitution Avenue or East Capitol Street, people would be jumping out of their skin. The residents in that part of Ward 6 have every right. We need bold leadership. We can't continue with the status quo.

  • 12:49:12

    SHERWOODWell, wait a minute. The bold leadership status quo is ninth grade civics. What does that mean? Have you spoken to Harry Reid in the Senate about getting his stop to block this?

  • 12:49:18

    THOMPSONI've talked to lots of people about this issue. I've talked to lots of people about this issue, Tom. I've talked to lots of stakeholders on this issue. And what everyone says, why can't we have a reroute? Let's fight for a reroute. Every option that's been proposed is one of the same thing. It still brings a -- digs up Virginia Avenue and places an unbelievable impact in the residents of Virginia...

  • 12:49:37

    NNAMDIIf elected to the Council, what would you be able to do about that?

  • 12:49:41

    THOMPSONWell, for starters, you've got to make sure that you're willing to fight at every angle. You can't just put something up on your Facebook page or send a letter and say that's the end of it. You've got to be willing to raise the volume on this matter. You've got to be willing to hold hearings. You've got to be willing to go to Congress.

  • 12:49:54

    THOMPSONHere's one important point here. I hope to serve on the Council because I will be a councilmember that will be in a unique place and one of the only people that has the ability, know-how, to go up and lobby Congress. We've got to understand that's an important part of this. That's a very important part of this, Tom. You know this. So let's...

  • 12:50:11

    NNAMDILet's talk money. Here's Josh on Capitol Hill. Josh, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:50:17

    JOSHHey, guys. Thanks for taking my call. So my question has to do with donations. And Charles Allen has raised all of his money through individual donation and refused corporate donations like Tommy Wells has. You've made the decision to accept them. Did you decide that because you didn't think you'd have enough grassroots support in the ward? What was the decision-making process there?

  • 12:50:37

    THOMPSONWell, I'll say this. We're abiding by the campaign rules as they are right now. But this is a bigger issue, and this is a big difference between my opponent and I. My opponent, it seems like he's more interested in sounding good than, quite frankly, doing good. We're talking about someone who's actively sought support from corporate and business interests. And it's a little disingenuous when you've actively sought it to say, oh, I'm only going to take it as an individual contribution.

  • 12:50:59

    THOMPSONHis website is well documented with individuals that praise him for things that he's done for their businesses. Their establishments are littered with campaign literature for him. But yet we're going to say that we're not accepting corporate interests. This is why people are frustrated with politics.

  • 12:51:12

    NNAMDIOK. Well, let me...

  • 12:51:12

    THOMPSONNo, no. Let me finish this point.

  • 12:51:13


  • 12:51:14

    THOMPSONThis is why people are frustrated with politics 'cause it's disingenuous. You're seeking union support. You're seeking union endorsements. You're saying "I'm gonna get boots on the ground" through what we know are going to be independent expenditures. So this is disingenuous. This is why people are frustrated with politics.

  • 12:51:28

    THOMPSONLet's just have full transparency. Let's be honest with the voters. Let's tell folks, hey, we're going to play by the rules. You see who's giving, and it's right there. And, by the way, I'm very proud of the support that I've received. And I don't take a backseat for anyone on that.

  • 12:51:41

    SHERWOODWell, you both have raised about -- a little over $100,000 each or whatever.

  • 12:51:44

    THOMPSONWe've raised over 160 -- close to $160,000.

  • 12:51:46

    SHERWOODOK. Well, higher. I've looked at the numbers, and I've asked about this issue. 'Cause Tommy Wells has for mayor, but Charles Allen has said he will not take corporate money, that is, corporate PAC money or anything like that. He's only taking money from individuals. The -- he has taken money from individuals who own corporations or businesses. Are you saying you wouldn't -- he shouldn't be taking the money from a person who owns a bike shop?

  • 12:52:10

    THOMPSONWhat I'm saying, Tom, is I think that he should...

  • 12:52:12

    SHERWOODHe hasn't taken any corporate money. Is that right?

  • 12:52:13

    THOMPSONBut it's disingenuous. It's hiding. It's a little nefarious, and it's disingenuous to say that you're not taking any of these types of contributions when you're actively seeking contributions from (unintelligible)...

  • 12:52:24

    SHERWOODAnd most of his money, he says he's raised 75 -- 80 percent of it's raised inside Ward 6. How much has been yours in Ward 6? I looked at your report today. How much has been raised inside the ward?

  • 12:52:35

    THOMPSONI couldn't tell you that number off the top of my head. I've got...

  • 12:52:36

    SHERWOODFive, 10 percent.

  • 12:52:38

    THOMPSONOh, I don't know. We've got a lot of people. I've known a lot of people all across the country that are supporting me.

  • 12:52:42

    SHERWOODNow, here's the -- here's what -- as a reporter in covering, you are a very -- you have a very good record in national politics and have worked with the Obama campaign and...

  • 12:52:52

    NNAMDISenate campaign.

  • 12:52:52

    SHERWOODSenate campaign, thank you. You have a check. You have a very good reputation as a national person. You also have a good reputation as a nice guy, which is not necessary as (unintelligible)...

  • 12:53:04

    THOMPSONI'm also a (unintelligible) hard worker. I don't take a backseat to folks. And I'm going to work harder...

  • 12:53:06

    SHERWOODBut you don't -- I'm told you don't have -- and if you've lived in Ward 6 since '96 or '98, whatever it was, what did you -- when you're a ward-level politician, I know everyone that has served. And I know that they have to deal with the local issues in their ward. And you don't have that kind of experience. The only thing that I saw was that you were a Little League, well, person for three months before you announced...

  • 12:53:29

    THOMPSONWell, let's back up here. Let's -- let's back up here. You know, we can continue with seeking the status quo -- and I know you may not like that phrase, but we can continue to seek the status quo.

  • 12:53:38

    SHERWOODWhat does that mean?

  • 12:53:40

    THOMPSONIt means that we can continue -- this has been a problem with the District for a long time. Oh, I know this person. They're going to get this job. Oh, this person used to work for me. They're going to get this job. Well, we can take a different approach.

  • 12:53:49

    SHERWOODWell, that's what happens in the Senate.

  • 12:53:52

    THOMPSONWe're talking about Ward 6 right now, Tom.

  • 12:53:53

    SHERWOODOK. All right.

  • 12:53:54

    THOMPSONSo the people in Ward 6 have an opportunity. They can continue with the status quo. We can miss opportunities, or we can take advantage of opportunities missed in the past and go forward and get some of these things (unintelligible) so...

  • 12:54:03

    NNAMDIIt's my understanding that your opponent says he's opposed to the tunnel, too. What -- when it comes to matters of policy of substance, where would you say you offer the clearest departures, if any, from Charles Allen?

  • 12:54:14

    SHERWOODThis is a one-on-one race now because one of the candidates dropped out this week. And so it is a one-on-one race on the April primary.

  • 12:54:20

    THOMPSONWell, sometimes I've got to tell you I'm not sure if I'm running against Tommy Wells or Charles Allen or both of them on any given day. You just never know sometimes.

  • 12:54:26

    NNAMDIWell, where do you differ with both of them on issues of policy?

  • 12:54:29

    THOMPSONWell, let's talk about a couple things. On policy -- let's not just talk about policy because this is about leadership as well. And this is about where you stand. Like I said, on the CSX Tunnel, it's great to just post something on your website and say, hey, I'm for this, I'm for this. But Ward 6 needs leadership. We've missed opportunities to do things.

  • 12:54:48

    SHERWOODWhat -- you keep -- you said missed opportunities 10 times. What missed opportunities?

  • 12:54:52

    THOMPSONWe're talking about continuing to improve our schools. We're talking about continuing to improve our schools from a comprehensive approach. It's not enough to just say we're going to fix the middle schools. We've got kids in middle schools right now that -- kids in middle schools right now that needed our attention four, six, eight years ago. So now today, we're going to start talking about fixing middle schools.

  • 12:55:11

    THOMPSONWe should be expanding in the number of slots in our pre-K. We should be providing opportunities for parents with kids with disabilities. We should be making sure, again, that all of our schools are as good as our best schools. You can't have a conversation about education in this city and not be ready to talk about the achievement gap and how to close it.

  • 12:55:24

    NNAMDIWe're running out of time, but I want to get Susanna in Washington. And, Susanna, your turn.

  • 12:55:30

    SUSANNAYes. I just saw you at a progressive forum, and you stated you were for comprehension immigration reform and would not support a voter act to allow all D.C. residents the right to vote.

  • 12:55:45


  • 12:55:45

    SUSANNAMy question is this is you stated that it wouldn't be a clean process. Are you unable to make a clean policy? And would you -- why would you not support what we see as progressive D.C. allowing all residents to vote?

  • 12:56:02

    THOMPSONYou're absolutely right. I have worked on comprehensive immigration reform, and I think it's something we absolutely need to do. And I've also maintained this. And this is unfortunate that we have to disagree on this. I think elections are for citizens. I think elections are for citizens, whether they be in the District of Columbia or anywhere else. Elections are for...

  • 12:56:19

    NNAMDIHow about (unintelligible) argument that we may not be citizens, but, heck, we are taxpayers, and we should have a voice on how our money is being spent?

  • 12:56:24

    SHERWOODAnd we're talking about legal permanent residents. We're not talking about undocumented immigrants.

  • 12:56:29

    THOMPSONI understand exactly what we're talking about. But we're talking about elections should be for citizens. And I think that we have to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform. And this is an issue that I understand touches a lot of people.

  • 12:56:39

    SHERWOODWhat about the driver's license that council passed a legislation to have a driver's license for undocumented immigrants with...

  • 12:56:45

    THOMPSONThat's a step in the right direction because that's about making...

  • 12:56:46

    SHERWOODAre you for that?

  • 12:56:47

    THOMPSONYes, I am. Because that helps us maintain our public safety.

  • 12:56:49

    SHERWOODThey can drive? They just can't drive to a voting booth 'cause...

  • 12:56:51

    THOMPSONWell, we're -- well, hey, that's a funny one, Tom. You got me.

  • 12:56:53

    SHERWOODOK. Sorry.

  • 12:56:55

    THOMPSONBut let's be honest here. What we're talking about is making sure that we can provide safety on the roads. But, again, I want to come back to some of the safety things. We've got to be safe in our streets as safe as we are in our living rooms. We've got to make sure -- here's one of the other things I want to do, Tom.

  • 12:57:08

    NNAMDIYou only have about a minute left.

  • 12:57:09

    THOMPSONAll right. Well, this is perfect 'cause I'm going to get this in. I want to make sure we put Wi-Fi, free Wi-Fi in all of our public parks. You know we've got a lot of public parks in Ward 6. Let's do that. And since we're talking about parks, let's dig up those parking lots at RFK Stadium and put playing fields, soccer fields, softball fields right there...

  • 12:57:23

    NNAMDIDo you support the DC United Stadium proposal?

  • 12:57:25

    THOMPSONI think it's a great idea, but I want to make sure, again, it puts District residents to work.

  • 12:57:29

    SHERWOODDo you support the Skins coming back if they build their own stadium at RFK?

  • 12:57:32

    THOMPSONWell, that's an interesting site. Is that site big enough? The NFL wants...

  • 12:57:35


  • 12:57:37

    THOMPSONWell, we'd have to make sure...

  • 12:57:37

    SHERWOODWell, do you support the Skins coming back if the site's big enough?

  • 12:57:39

    THOMPSONI like the burgundy and gold coming back. I'd like to see the burgundy and gold. I've been a fan of the team for a long time. I'd like to see them playing in the District.

  • 12:57:44

    NNAMDIBut you'd like them to come back with a different name, obviously.

  • 12:57:46

    THOMPSONI'd like to see them coming back to the District. The burgundy and gold's always been my number one team.

  • 12:57:51

    NNAMDIDarrel Thompson, he's a Democratic candidate for the D.C. Council. He's running for the seat representing Ward 6, currently held by Tommy Wells. Thank you for joining us. Good luck to you.

  • 12:57:58

    THOMPSONKojo, Tom, thanks so much.

  • 12:58:00

    NNAMDITom Sherwood, he's our resident analyst. He's a reporter at NBC 4 and a columnist for the Current Newspapers who's trying to get his old job in Richmond back because of all that expensive booze that Terry McAuliffe (unintelligible).

  • 12:58:11

    SHERWOODBetter than what I buy.

  • 12:58:13

    NNAMDIThank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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